But, as Drinkwater's poem suggests, things are alive underfoot. There are tiny hints of emerging green in the leaf-mouldy mud. We seem to be on the verge of something.
Felicity Charlton (1913-2009), "Porthkerry Park from the Artist's Studio"
The following poem is not necessarily set in late winter, but it captures the feeling I am struggling to articulate.
Dirge in Woods
A wind sways the pines,
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
George Meredith, A Reading of Earth (1888).
"As under the sea" (line 8) in particular gets at the still and hushed feeling on the forest floor at this time of year, as does the image of clouds moving quickly overhead, while nothing stirs in the all-day twilight of the world that lies beneath the empty branches.
Felicity Charlton, "Llandaff House"
Here is another similarly evocative poem out of the Victorian era.
A wood obscure in this man's haunt of love,
And midmost in the wood where leaves fall sere,
A pool unplumbed; no winds these waters move,
Gathered as in a vase from year to year.
And he has thought that he himself lies drowned,
Wan-faced where the pale water glimmereth,
And that the voiceless man who paces round
The brink, nor sheds a tear now, is his wraith.
Edward Dowden, Poems (1914).
Call me old-fashioned, but I love "Wan-faced where the pale water glimmereth." The world becomes a poorer, less enchanted place when a word such as "glimmereth" passes out of use. Or so it seems to me.
"The Pool" brings to mind some lines from T. S. Eliot's "Burnt Norton" -- likely due to the haunted feel of both poems.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (1943).
Felicity Charlton, "Cadoxton Methodist Church" (1969)